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Third Party Authentication Services. Does it matter?

My Dad had a saying and it goes, "If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?". The answer, of course, is yes. But does the sound matter?


This analogy can apply to autographs in today's marketplace. If a famous celebrity signs an autograph for a fan and no recognized third party authentication service can verify it, is it still authentic? The answer is yes but does it matter?


Agree with it or not, third party authentication services are here to stay and continue to have a profound influence on the hobby. Those who think otherwise are fooling themselves. 


And when it comes time to sell you can expect that your buyer will likely expect your autograph to already be authenticated or will likely submit it to a TPA for verification. When that happens you may be blindsided by the results.


You may be the most honest person on the planet and your autograph may actually be authentic. But does it matter?

Not nearly as much as you think.

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Joe, that was some great saying, love it.....with regards to your comments, I agree....you can have a perfectly authentic autograph some tpa guy says no and now you have a worthless item or atleast an item which is worth less and is less desirable !!!....so the million dollar question is who questions these tpa guys ???? and what makes them better than me or you ???

You are on target, Beatleworld. They may not be as good as a collector with experience in a specific genre. But, this discussion is just as much about perception as it is actuality.

Do you think a knowledgeable collector would necessarily do better in these instances? We’re talking about an autograph that’s atypical to extent that no major TPA could recognize that it’s authentic.

I've experienced a few times where experienced collectors have believed an autograph is clearly authentic that have been rejected later by TPA services. And these autographs were, by no means, so sloppy to be unrecognizable.

The point of this discussion is the TPA services have much influence in today's market. They can help make or break a signature's value. The majority of today's collectors want the additional security of that TPA certification.

I recently had someone tell me it doesn't matter if no TPA service will recognize it as being genuine. Just mention the name of the source and the item will sell. If you owned a signature that PSA, JSA, Bickett, and ACOA all have rejected would you feel comfortable owning it or selling it to someone else?

Not in today's world. IMO.

Whoever told you that cannot possibly be an autograph collector.  They are probably an autograph dealer.  Collectors prefer an additional peace of mind.

The answer is only for dealers!

Autographs were memorabilia obtained by fans and who needed a TPA?

Not true, Paul. The vast majority of collectors desire a verified autograph. Many demand them now. I hardly believe dealers want the extra expense of paying TPA services. They do it to met demand and for protection.

I understand there are purists who do not care what the marketplace is doing but, in honestly, purists are in the minority. 

I would never consider buying unauthenticated material from anyone. I’d have to pay for the service, I’d rather have it done for me. I won’t buy raw

I love buying raw - I don't buy or sell anything with stickers etc.

I only do music. I just prefer Roger and PSA for that stuff. Better prices for raw material for sure.

A TPA opinion only matters if you intend to sell the autograph in the future.  That is why reputable autograph dealers stand behind their product, and typically encourage their customers to submit their autograph to a TPA.  If for some reason the TPA does not believe that the autograph is authentic, a reputable autograph dealer will typically allow an exchange or a refund.  Any who refuse will simply be added to the list that we all avoid.  That is the nature of our hobby today.

Also, if there is no ear to receive the sound of a tree falling, how can it therefore have made a sound?  An ear would be necessary to complete the sound, the same way that a wide receiver is necessary to complete a pass.

I tend to agree with you on this Mike. People who sell autographs in today's world must realize that autographs that do not pass independent authentication by a recognized service should do their best to resolve this issue with their client peacefully.

The last thing a seller needs is the potential of bad publicity. It's the reasonable thing to do. It's good for business.

I will give you an example from my own experience. I own a David Gilmour signature. I was careful and received opinions before I purchased it. It includes a Floyd Authentic COA which is owned and operated by a well known Pink Floyd autograph expert we all know well here. Few would question his credentials. But, my buyer received a "not likely genuine" quick opinion from PSA. 

Now, I could have debated the merits of the quick opinion and have a number of valid reasons why the autograph is genuine but I didn't do that. I simply refunded the buyer and went about my business. Was I happy about doing that. No, but it was the right thing to do.

BTW, here is the link to the discussion on this specific issue I am referencing.

https://live.autographmagazine.com/forum/topics/david-gilmour-inter...

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